A graduate degree can be either a master's degree or a doctoral degree, and there are numerous career options out there for those who study marine biology at either of those levels. Below we explore a few of these career possibilities, including their salaries, job duties and relationship to the field of marine biology.
Salaries for Marine Biology Jobs
|Position||Preferred Degree||Average Salary (2017)*||Career Outlook (2016-2026)*|
|Biology Teacher (Secondary School)||Bachelor's at minimum; master's is required in some states||$62,860 (for all types of secondary school teachers, except career and special education)||8% (for all types of secondary school teachers, except career and special education)|
|Wildlife Biologist||Master's or doctoral||$66,250||8%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Options for Marine Biology Graduate Degrees
Biology professors typically have a PhD, since most universities look for doctoral degrees for tenured positions. Being a biology professor lets you teach courses on detailed biology topics, including marine biology. Your duties include preparing lectures, labs and other course materials, as well as creating and grading exams. As a professor, you'll also get to take sabbaticals, which gives you the time you need to complete research in the marine biology field. These sabbaticals often include research and writing for journals or your own book.
While teachers can work initially with a bachelor's degree, many states ask that their teachers seek additional education, like a master's degree, to continue their certification. If you want to teach biology specifically, you may want to consider working in secondary schools (typically grades 9-12). At a secondary school, you'll instill the excitement and joy of biology to students who may decide to continue on with these studies after they graduate. As a teacher, besides teaching and grading homework, you'll help run biology clubs and write lesson plans.
If you want to run research teams in biology, you'll likely need a PhD. Zoologists and wildlife biologists look at all types of animals; with your studies in marine biology, you can become a marine biologist (which is a type of wildlife biologist). On top of that, you may choose to narrow your focus to a specific area of biology or type of animal, such as marine histology (study of cells and tissues) or malacology (study of mollusks). Basically, as a biologist, you'll collect samples and study the species and environments around them. You may help to make conservation programs or plans for marine ecosystems.
Hydrologists college water and soil samples to check on the earth's water systems. You may study the way water moves, predict future water supplies, or research groundwater or surface water specifically. You'll likely work with other scientists, politicians, and engineers to create conservation plans. You'll monitor pollution of water and help to plan water treatment facilities. Along with these tasks, you'll need to help scientists plan for the future issues that bodies of water could face, such as erosion, flooding, or drought. A master's degree is typically required by some industries.
Though prospective environmental scientists often study environmental science, a marine biology background would be beneficial for understanding marine animals, plants, and water systems. You'll collect samples of the environment and identify threats to the ecosystems. You will work on technical reports for companies and government officials to explain hazards and health risks from the environment, as well as developing ways to control, monitor, and fix environmental problems.
While many paths in marine biology lead to scientist and specialist careers, there are also careers in academia that would allow you the chance to pass on your passion for marine ecosystems. Whether you earn your master's or continue with a PhD, a graduate degree in marine biology will give you plenty of career opportunities.